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How to outsource customer service in just 5 steps

August 12, 2022
Outsourcing customer service the right way can provide a great customer experience — without harming your business or bottom line.

Editor's note: This post was updated November 2023.

According to Zendesk, 73% of consumers will switch to a competitor after multiple bad customer service experiences. Over half will defect after a single bad experience.

There's no doubt that a great customer experience (CX) leads to a healthy and thriving business. However, many companies struggle to get it right. Building a great CX can be hard, and it can be expensive. Having internal team members handle customer interactions can be a good option in the short term, but it’s not effective at scale.

Outsourcing customer service to a chatbot or someone who doesn’t understand your business won’t help. In fact, it can disconnect customers from your brand. Your customer care initiatives can feel like an afterthought instead of a priority.

The solution? Outsource your customer service the right way.

What is outsourced customer service?

Outsourced customer service is when a business uses a third party to handle support tickets. Many companies outsource their customer service — especially brands that are growing fast. They know customer service is critical. But they need to focus their hands-on attention on other aspects of their business.

5 steps to outsource customer service (the right way)

Popular ecommerce brands like Thinx, Olaplex, Factor, and more all use outsourced customer service companies for their customer support. These are all reputable brands with high net promoter scores (NPS). When companies find the right way to outsource customer service, there can potentially be huge gains.

So without further ado, let’s learn how to outsource and automate your customer service — the right way.

1. Establish clear goals for outsourcing

Why are you considering outsourcing your customer service in the first place? There are a variety of reasons a business might look into it.

Generally, brands are looking for a way to quickly and effectively address questions and concerns to keep customers happy. It helps to get more specific about what success looks like for you.

Are you ramping up to offer 24/7 support? Is it to better cover all of your marketing channels? Is it to scale up or down your customer support team to handle changing ticket volume? Is your goal to improve your customer satisfaction scores, like NPS? 

Clear goals for your customer service operation allow you to find an outsourcing partner that fits all of your needs.

2. Determine where your customers contact you

Sometimes companies neglect or even forget about the channels their customers use to contact them. With so many ways for customers to reach out, it’s important to know where all your messages are coming from.

Email and chat could work well for millennials, but Gen Z customers might go straight to social media to address concerns. So, it’s important to be clear about where your audience is most likely to reach out.

Some communication channels include:

As you evaluate potential customer support outsourcers, ask which channels they typically support. Many business process outsourcers (BPOs) will focus on traditional contact center channels like voice and email.

Chatdesk has prioritized support on social media, email, SMS, and chat. This is where consumers are reaching out, and where ecommerce brands often struggle to scale support as the volume, speed, and expectations increase. We’re here to support.

3. Protect your brand voice and tone

When outsourcing your customer service team, it’s important to provide clear guidelines on how you want them to speak to your customers.

Brand voice and tone guidelines outline how your company speaks to the world. It’s your brand's personality — and it’s important to protect. Brands with a well-defined voice sound consistent wherever they show up online or in customer interactions, no matter who is actually behind the response from the brand.

Make sure your outsourced customer service company can effectively understand your brand voice. With a traditional outsourced customer service solution, agents do their best — but they just won’t know your brand like you do.

There’s an easier way to train your extended customer support team, even if you don’t already have established brand and tone guidelines. Chatdesk uses AI to analyze your past customer interactions and conversations across all channels. Our platform learns your policies and your brand voice and tone, so our experts provide on-brand responses from the start.

And we hire, schedule, and train real-life Superfans of your brand — people with an existing affinity for your brand. This way, your customer support team truly understands your business.

4. Train for quality and measure success

Unless you enforce the standards you put in place, they don’t help you much. You need two things: a way to teach customer support agents those standards, and a way to measure whether they’re being met.

You’ll get a clearer idea of what quality looks like as you review resolved tickets. Customer support tools that give you real-time reporting on things like your team's CSAT and revenue will give you a better shot at communicating to customers in a meaningful way.

A successful customer support operation should track the following:

Let’s look at these and learn a bit more about them.

Net promoter score (NPS)

Net promoter score asks your customers a simple question: “How likely are you to recommend this business to a friend?” If a customer rates your NPS as a 10, they’ll certainly recommend you; a score of 1 means they’ll avoid it at all costs.

Customer satisfaction (CSAT)

Businesses measure CSAT in a number of ways, but it’s a simple rating of your customers’ experience with your business. One option is a multiple question survey asking things like “how would you rate your customer support agent?” and “how would you rate your overall satisfaction with us?” Answers can include easy, medium, and hard — or a scale of 1-5, or smiley and frowny faces.

Customer effort score (CES)

Your CES measures how easy or challenging it is to do business with you. Generally it’s a single question, like “how easy was it to complete your order?” CES tells you whether customers had issues dealing with you. Like CSAT, CES can be measured basically however you like.

These options may all feel fairly similar. But each of them gives you a slightly different angle on how smoothly customers can work with you. And they each have a subtly different effect on your bottom line.

5. Select a trustworthy customer service outsourcer and platform

Once you understand the channels you need to support, how you want your brand represented, and how you’ll measure success, it’s time to select the right partner. 

A platform like Chatdesk allows you to scale your customer support with the flexibility of a SaaS platform. Our combination of AI and human experts gives you 24/7 on-demand customer support — and you only pay for what you need. 

Thousands of brands choose Chatdesk for:

Schedule a free demo and see how Chatdesk can fit into your business.

Why outsource customer service?

Great customer support improves customer retention, helping you ensure a healthy business for the long term. But standing up, scaling, and managing an in-house customer service operation takes a significant portion of your time, energy, and budget.

For every brand — from startups to large enterprises — your time, energy, and budget are limited resources. And you need to allocate as much of these as possible to tackling more strategic challenges and opportunities in your business.

Outsourcing customer service the right way can free up those resources without sacrificing the quality of customer interactions. Your customers are your supporters. Make sure you’re there to support them as well.

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